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A Pianist Under the Influence (Kindle Single) Kindle Edition

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Length: 39 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 192 KB
  • Print Length: 39 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (September 27, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 27, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,508 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Jonathan Biss has appeared with the foremost orchestras of North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Widely regarded known not only for his artistry and poetic interpretations but also for his deep musical curiosity, Biss performs a diverse repertoire ranging from Mozart and Beethoven, through the Romantics to Janáček and Schoenberg as well as works by contemporary composers such as Gyorgy Kurtág and including commissions from Leon Kirchner, Lewis Spratian and Bernard Rands. Biss has a noted recording career. His recordings include an album of Schubert sonatas and two short Kurtág pieces that was named by NPR Music as one of the best albums of the year. In January 2012, Onyx Classics released the first CD in a nine-year, nine-disc recording cycle of Beethoven's complete sonatas. The second album of Beethoven sonatas will release in January 2013. Biss studied at Indiana University and at The Curtis Institute of Music, where he was appointed to the piano faculty in 2010.

Photo by Jamie Jung

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
"A Pianist Under the Influence" a short dissertation on the music of Robert Schumann by pianist Jonathan Biss. This Kindle e-book was a 140 Kb download (approx. 39 printed pages) and was priced at $1.99 at the time of writing this review.

1.) I'd previously read Biss's account of the musical influence that Beethoven had on his life and musical career, in his work called "Beethoven's Shadow". So when I saw he had another composer from the 19th century (Robert Schumann) as his latest endeavor, I was interested to see what he had to say.

2.) Although I've no musical capabilities, I've always loved classical music... especially that of Beethoven. But Schumann was another case altogether... never liked his music as judged by the few pieces or small segments I've heard, before turning them off. So I was unsure of whether the examination of this composer would retain my interest or not. It did... in spades!

Some thoughts on "A Pianist Under the Influence"...

Written by a pianist and musician... only an individual with some degree of interest in musical history plus having the extraordinary abilities of a concert class pianist could ever undertake a project such as found in this short book... and so deftly pull it off.

Author Biss takes great pains to make sure the reader is aware of the influence that the music of Schumann has had on him since age nine to present day. Although not really a history of Schumann's life (although there was the occasional reference here and there) this was rather a series of anecdotal accounts as to how his lack of social and communication skills forced him express himself in the one way he knew how... through his music. An appreciation that was not shared by many people...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Yours Truly VINE VOICE on October 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As someone who loves Classical music but is not a trained musician, I wish everyone who wrote about that music could do so with the insight and passion of this author. I've often felt distanced from Schumann for just the reasons Biss cites from his detractors--all that intensity without a discernable purpose, the lack (sometimes) of variation, and several other attributes familiar to anyone who has looked at a concert program and felt a little disappointed to see the name of Schumann.

This opened the music up to me in ways I had not expected, and I'm going to try again, using some of the recordings that Biss mentions, including his own. I wish that Amazon had found a way to insert musical excerpts into the manuscript as links. As someone interested in the psychological implications of music and aware (although not always consciously) of its power over the psyche, I was fascinated by the idea of Schumann's baring his soul so unsparingly. This book is highly recommended.Now on to Biss's thoughts about Beethoven.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Teresa Willett on September 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This wasn't the pre-sleep wind down I was expecting -- not even close. As someone completely unversed in classical music (Romantic era composers, or otherwise), I was totally unprepared for the depth of my reaction to Biss's extraordinarily touching tribute to Robert Schumann. This short piece is exceptional in so many ways -- from the author's singular writing to the details of Schumann's awkward life, unusual marriage, and protracted mental decline. But what really created a frisson of emotional excitement in me (actually two things) was the author's effusive, heartfelt expression of what the composer has meant to him since the age of nine (and I gotta wonder -- did Schumann's mama even love him this much?) and Biss's absolutely compelling descriptions of Schumann's music. (You WILL want to hear what the author hears, even if it is 1 A.M.) I can't recommend this enough.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 4, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jonathan Biss's earlier book, "Beethoven's Shadow" was largely autobiographical whereas this one is more personal. While the first book felt like a collection of events and critical observations centring on Beethoven's musical genius, in this book the writing appears closer to the heart. It is a very sensitive, empathetic portrayal of Robert Schumann who comes across as the author's tragic hero. Throughout the book, Biss evokes brilliantly the loneliness that Schumann lived with and which permeated his music. Schumann left the gift of his music to posterity, but that music would not ameliorate the pain and sadness in his own life. Biss writes that his experience of Schumann's is tremendously powerful. But he can put it aside when it becomes dangerously so. For Schuman though there was no such escape as "he was permanently trapped inside his fantastic, blighted mind".
Biss acknowledges that the sentimentality of the music of the 19th century sits uncomfortably with today's music, where image and irony is everything. It is as if Biss wants to deliberately thumb his nose at this attitude - "the soft bigotry of received wisdom" which has led to Schumann being so misunderstood - by adopting a reverent and wistful tone while speaking of Schumann's music.
The book is not all about Schumann, though. Biss includes also a short review of the works of some of his favourite composers from the 20th and 21st centuries, all of whom, Biss opines, share an ache for the past. This survey includes some not so adulatory observations about Schumann too. There is nevertheless an undercurrent of love and reverence that pervades these critical notes on the life and works of Schumann.
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